The Department of Health is on track in implementing salary increases for nurses in the public sector, a process which is due to be complete by the end of March.
Departmental spokesperson Sibani Mngadi said the department had made progress in the "enormous task' of upgrading 100 000 nurses? salaries.
So far, at least two provincial Health Departments, Limpopo and the Northern Cape have already completed the implementation and all other provinces are moving forward with the implementation.
The salary increases are included in the Occupational Specific Dispensation (OSD) which is aimed at boosting the ability of the public health sector to attract and retain health professionals.
The OSD was the result of two months of bargaining between government and organised labour following the public service strike in June last year.
Salary adjustments are to be made retrospectively from 1 July 2007 with all adjustments to be completed by the end of March this year.
There are two phases in the OSD agreement. In the first phase, the minimum adjustment is in line with the occupational specific dispensation while the next phase is the recalculation and progression based on recognition of relevant experience.
Both these occupational specific dispensation salary adjustments represented an increase which was over and above the 7.5 percent general salary adjustment reached following negotiations at the end of the public service strike, the statement said.
Part of the agreement was that entry level salaries for different categories of nurses would be increased by between 20 percent and 24 percent, which would be paid retrospectively with effect from 1 July 2007.
Salaries for nursing professionals
In terms of the salary offer agreed to by the unions and government, the commencing salaries for professional nurses will be R106 086, staff nurses R70 140 and R53 757 for auxiliary nurses.
The unions represented in the negotiations are National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union [Nehawu], Democratic Nurses Association of South Africa [Denosa], Public Service Association [PSA], Hospital Personnel Trade Union of South Africa [HOSPERA] and National Union of Public Service and Allied Workers [NUPSAW].
The OSD is expected to have a significant impact in improving the delivery of public health services as nurses constitute the single biggest professional categories for 2009.
By Luyanda Makapela